The romantic magic of rural Cambodia is well captured on a luxury cruise along the Mekong River on a teak-panelled river boat. Relax your way along a toast-colored waterway snaking its way from Phnom Penh along green-lined banks broken by village homes, laughing children, golden pagodas and Lincoln- green rice-fields until breaking free into Tonlé Sap, Asia’s largest fresh-water lake and Siem Reap, home to the remarkable Angkor Wat. Or try a longer eight-day Mekong river cruise from Siem Reap to Saigon in Vietnam via Phnom Penh.
The 317-kilometer three-day river journey Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is well negotiated by river boats that originally navigated Myanmar’s mysterious Irrawaddy River before introduction 0nto the Mekong. Today, they meld colonial heritage with modern comforts including air conditioning, hot-water bathrooms and wifi. Remaining is warm service, delicious food and wines all reminiscent of a more refined era.
The most experienced and best-value river cruise line working the Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap route is CFMekong by Croisi River Cruises, a pioneer of river cruising in Asia and Europe. Its flagship is the 31-cabin cruise ship RV Indochine 11, the ultimate in service, safety and affordable luxury. The Indochine 11 features a contemporary European design with teak and mahogany finishes. Cabins are spacious and initing with separate toilets and shower room and private open-air balconies.
Itineraries may differ but each cruise ship in the five member CFMCroisi fleet provides around the clock hospitality with high crew-to-guest ratios and varied land excursions. At night, presentations on Cambodia are offered as well as films reflecting its recent history.
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Mekong Luxury River Cruise: Day 1
Gentle cruising from Phnom Penh to Kampong Tralach, followed by a land-based ox-cart excursion across open rice paddies to the vihara of Wat Kampong Tralach Leu and its centuries-old pagoda. The monastery features a school for novitiates and living quarters for orange-clad monks. The excursion passes Cham villages, descendants of the Kingdom of Champa that existed between the seventh and 12th centuries.
Mekong Luxury River Cruise: Day 2
Kampong Chnangto Chnok Tru, 56 kms from Phnom Penh and one of the largest fishing ports on the Tonlé Sap. The town is welcoming and friendly. The local market explodes with exotic foods, homewares and handicrafts. Fish farming is widespread here. The area is famous for its pottery, which supplies much of Cambodia. Cruise ship visitors also tour a village producing palm sugar and a fiery palm wine.
Next up is a visit to Chnok Tru, the largest floating village on Tonlé Sap, which features floating schools, homes, gas stations, markets, ice-making facilities, boat repairs, government offices and more…all on water. At night cruise guests are welcomed to a Cambodia culture performance and introductions to the captain and crew via song and dance.
Mekong Luxury River Cruise: Day 3
On-board relaxation continues until docking at Phnom Krom pier, and a five-mile bus ride to Siem Reap or with the Indochine 11, direct docking at Phnom Penh.